Skip to Content


Project Home Page 




This Heron Surname DNA Project is open to those in a direct paternal line to the surname Heron or its many variants -- Haran, Harran, Herron, Herran, Herren, Herrin, Herring, Hairun, Heiron, Heroun, Hearon, Hern, Herne, Hearn, Hearne, Herndon, Aherne, Ahearne, O’Hearain, O’hArain, O’Haron, O’Heron, O’Herron, McElheron, MacElheron, MacKerron, MacCarran, etc.


DNA testing is the newest and one of the most powerful tools available to genealogists. DNA can break down walls when nothing else can -- even when the documentary evidence conflicts or the paper trail comes to an end. These tests help genealogists verify their paternal ancestry (father's father) in a quick and easy way. It saves time, prevents mistakes, and provides invaluable data that can be obtained in no other way.


Participating in a Surname DNA Project provides:

  • A report on the participant's genetic DNA, which is very close (and sometimes identical) to the earliest known ancestor
  • A classification of the participant's "deep" ancestry, which gives insight into the prehistoric origins of your surname ancestors
  • A sense of camaraderie with all who participate in the Family Project, which is particularly strong for those who share a genetic ancestry
  • Stimulation to family research and sharing of information
  • A wider sense of identity and relationship, as we begin to realize how much we are a World Family.
  • A chance to compare your genetic ancestry with those of the Surname and the Variant Spellings
  • Locates the genetic matches that do not share your common surname


This Heron Family DNA Project is Started to:

  1. Trace the various HERON lineages found around the world back to a common ancestor (see the Patriarch Page).  Heron lineages have been located in Jamaica, Australia, Scotland, Ireland, England and North America.
  2. Identify our ancestors' migration routes.
  3. Identify the DNA of the ancestor families and compile them and their lost branches into distinct genetic lineages through DNA matches.


Do you want to find your Heron connection?

Click here to order a DNA test at a discounted price.

Useful Links:

World Families Network Forums
Heron Family Forum
Pedigree Forum
World Families Network General Discussion

Herring DNA Project

Elliott (and Border Reivers) DNA Project

Heron DNA Results & Comments

Heron Surname Variants in the Griffith Valuation

Distribution of surnames Heron, Haran, and Horan in the mid-1800's Griffith Valuation

Distribution of surnames Hearn, Harn, and Harney


NORMAN ORIGIN OF THE HEARNE FAMILY -- Sir Bernard Burke says, "This family traces its settlement in England to the era of the Norman Conquest, and the name as then written, Heroun, is found amongst the persons of distinction who followed in the train of Wilham the Conqueror, AD 1066."


A work published in London, England, in 1874, upon the “Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States of America” contains the following information:   "Hearne, for Heron, from Hairun near Rouen, Normandy Tihel de Heiron was in Essex in 1086.  He accompanied William the Conqueror.   William Heron held a barony in Normandy, time of Philip Augustus Odonel Heron, time of William Rufus, 1087, witnessed a charter in Durham, England.   Alban de Hairun held a barony in Hertfordshire, England.   AD 1165 Richard de Hairun held in Essex.  Also in 1165 Dru de Hairun was in Yorkshire, and Jordan de Hairun in Northumberland.   In the latter county the Herons were of great note, and William Heron was summoned as a baron in 1369."

In the above work the following different spellings of this surname occur:  Hairun, Heiron, Heron, Hearn, Hearne, Hearon and Herron.

Brief History of the Heron Clan

The family of Heron became prominent in the south west of Scotland in Kircudbrightshire and the Stewartry, claiming descent from the Herons of Chipchase in Northumberland around the eleventh century. The English origin of the name seems to be from a nick-name for a thin man with long legs thus the reference to the heron bird. Walterous de Heyroun was clerk to William the Lion from about 1178 to 1180. The Herons were among many of the Borders riding clans who were crushed and scattered after the area was pacified by James VI in the decade following 1603. After the revolution in 1688, the Herons had their lands at Kerroughtree in Kircudbrightshire consolidated into the barony of Heron. Robert Heron, born in New Galloway in 1764, studied at Edinburgh University from 1780, he became an author, writing memoir of Robert Burns which has often.   He spent a number of spells in debtors’ prison and eventually died in 1807.   Patrick Heron of Heron was MP for Kirkcudbright, and married Lady Elizabeth Cochrane, daughter of the eighth Earl of Dundonald. Their daughter, Mary, married Lieutenant General Sir John Maxwell of Springkell, who assumed the extra surname, quartered the family arms and inherited the lands when Patrick Heron died. The current head of the family is Sir Nigel Heron-Maxwell, tenth baronet.

Heron, and variants such as Harron and Herron, can be an Irish or a Scottish name. This name is mainly found in Ulster, where it is most common in Counties Antrim, Down and Donegal.

Ireland was one of the first countries to adopt a system of hereditary surnames which developed from a more ancient system of clan or sept names.

From the 11th century each family began to adopt its own distinctive family name generally derived from the first name of an ancestor who lived in or about the 10th century. The surname was formed by prefixing either Mac (son of) or O (grandson or descendant of) to the ancestor’s name. Surnames in Ireland, therefore, tended to identify membership of a sept.

Two distinct Heron septs, in Gaelic O HEarain, the root word possibly being earadh, meaning ‘dread’, originated in Ulster: one in County Armagh and the other in County Donegal.   In County Fermanagh the Herons, in Gaelic O hArain, were erenaghs, i.e. hereditary stewards, of the church lands of Ballymacataggart in Derryvullan Parish.

In the census of 1659 Heron, in the form of O Haron, was recorded as one of the principal Irish names in the barony of Keenaght, County Derry.

Heron was occasionally used as an abbreviated form of McElheron. MacElheron is derived from Gaelic Mac Giolla Chiarain, meaning ‘son of the devotee of St Kieran’.  St Kieran founded a monastery at Clonmacnois, County Offaly in 548 AD. A small sept of this name originated in east Ulster, where the name was recorded in County Armagh in the 16th century Fiants.

McIlheran, in Gaelic Mac Gille Chiarain, meaning ‘son of the devotee of St Kieran’, is also a Scottish name. The McIlherans, based on the Isle of Bute, were a sept of Clan Donald who took their name from the 7th century St Kieran, the patron saint of Campbeltown in Kintyre.

Movement of Scottish settlers to Ulster began in earnest from 1605 in a private enterprise colonization of counties Antrim and Down when Sir Hugh Montgomery and Sir James Hamilton acquired title to large estates in north Down and Sir Randall MacDonnell, 1st Earl of Antrim, to large tracts of land in north Antrim.   As followers of Clan Donald many Scottish McIlherans would have settled in the Glens of Antrim.   In Ulster the name was further anglicised to Heron and Herron.

The Herons were also recorded as one of the lawless riding or reiving families of the Border country between Scotland and England who raided, on horseback, and stole each other’s cattle and possessions. They lived in the Middle March on the English side of the border. In England the surname Heron originated as a nickname for a tall, thin person

Tracing their descent from Northumberland in the 11th century, the Herons were also an important family in Kirkcudbrightshire in the province of Galloway. This province of southwest Scotland was home to many of the Scottish settlers who came to Ulster throughout the 17th century. - Mr. Brian Mitchell from the Derry Genealogy Centre

The Baronetcy of Heron of Chipchase

The Baronetcy of Heron of Chipchase was created on 20 November 1662 in the Baronetage of England by Charles II for Cuthbert Heron of Chipchase Castle, Northumberland.

Heron of Chipchase, Chipchase Castle

The Heron family acquired the Manor of Chipchase by the marriage of Walter Heron to the Chipchase heiress. He built a massive four storey battlemented tower house on the site of an earlier house in the mid 1300s.  A survey in 1541 described a 'fare tower' with a 'manor of stone joined thereto' owned by John Heron.

In 1621 Cuthbert Heron (High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1625) demolished the house and built a fine Jacobean mansion, leaving the tower standing and attached to the new house.   His first son George was killed at the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644 in the service of Charles I.   His second son Cuthbert was created a Baronet by Charles II, (See Heron Baronets), but he experienced financial problems which eventually led to the sale of the estate by the Herons early in the 18th century.  -  Source from Wikipedia

Group admins

Project Administrators